Tag Archives: Integrity


annebunkpb2I will never forget my first experience with a Progressive Beef audit. While our feed yard had participated in the Beef Quality Assurance Feed Yard Assessment for several years, my veterinarian filled the role of auditor under that voluntary educational program.  The Progressive Beef Quality Management System took auditing to an entirely new level for my crew and I.  While it ultimately provided a tremendous tool for improvement, opening my farm to an “outside auditor” made me uncomfortable.

My feed yard was my pride and joy, and my crew like family.  I am a perfectionist and hold myself to a very high level of accountability. A comprehensive audit often finds imperfection as it is designed to measure performance to a high level of detail.  It is my nature to take things personally and I viewed every infraction (no matter how small) as a slight on my own leadership.

The rational part of my brain recognized that growth and continuous improvement involved measuring performance at a detailed level. The metrics of the audit forced me to face imperfection.  The intellectual Anne knew that the road to excellence was never comfortable, and that perfect practice made perfect performance. The emotional Anne dreaded audit day.

Over the years that Will Feed participated in the Progressive Beef QMS, I learned that the positives of the audit outweighed the negatives.  The effectiveness of the tool as a means for continuous improvement significantly outweighed my personal stress. I’d like to report that I learned to relax, but I preach to my kids that integrity trumps all so I am simply going to say that I learned to accept the reality of audit day 😉

 Somewhere along the way, I recognized that audit meant: 


  • Human nature insists that we perform better when we are held accountable for our actions.
  • True understanding comes when you realize that the little things count.  Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s really does raise the level of care that you offer to your animals. Animals matter so details had better matter.
  • Daily dedication to a goal of excellence builds a positive culture. When you are dedicated to caring, awesome things happen.
  • Integrity is the voice that sits on your shoulder when you make decisions. You are more likely to listen to it when you live amidst a culture of excellence. Caregivers with integrity bring honor to the farm and lead to responsibly raised food.
  • Trust in our food supply plays a critical role in the stability of our country.  Verification of care inspires trust.  If it matters to you, it had better matter to me. We’re in this together.

One of the responsibilities for my new job is becoming a Progressive Beef auditor.  I am in the process of changing my position relative to who holds the clipboard.  I am hopeful that my past experience as feed yard boss lady will enable me to empower the feed yard crews that I audit to believe in the heart and spirit of an audit.

Getting better matters.  It involves accountability, understanding, dedication, integrity and trust; and results in a level of animal care that brings pride to the vocation of raising food.


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Filed under Chronicles of a Retiring Feed Yard Boss Lady, General, Progressive Beef QSA Program

The Magic of the Nebraska Sandhills…The Land and the People…

I have lived in Nebraska for more than 14 years now, and I am still awed every time that I drive north from Cozad into the Nebraska Sandhills.  The ‘Sandhills’ epitomize “God’s Country” to me, and being there settles my soul.

The Nebraska Sandhills

Part of that is the landscape, part of that is the people.

The land is vast and beautiful.  The people are compassionate, neighborly, honest, and have a work ethic that is second to none.  They are the kind of people that you want your children to spend time with because they will learn great “life lessons” from them.

One of my “jobs” at the feedyard that I enjoy tremendously is working with ranchers to improve the genetics and performance of their calves and the quality of the beef that they produce.  I am my own “cattle buyer” which means that I work directly with ranchers who “birth” the calves so that we can trace our animals from birth to harvest.


Al and Sallie and their family

Most calves do not spend their entire lives on one ranch or farm due to both natural resource and financial restraints.  However, partnerships like the one that I have created with Al and Sallie Atkins allow us to be “vertically collaborative” which ensures better animal care, the best use of natural resources, and higher quality beef.

These cattle are “Age and Source Verified” which means that we can trace the calves back to the ranch of birth and their birthdate. In addition to being “Age and Source Verified”, these calves are cared for by people that are Beef Quality Assurance Certified throughout their entire life span.

Both of these things are incredibly important to me because they ensure that my cattle receive high quality care, and produce high quality and “value added” beef.  This also allows me to use the most current technology to ensure that my cattle are as efficient and healthy as possible which both diminishes the “environmental footprint” and increases the quality of my beef.

The first ranch family that I ever worked with was Al and Sallie Atkins of Halsey, Nebraska.  Almost, ten years later, we still make a great team.  We collaborate together to constantly improve both the care that we provide to our animals and the quality of the beef that they produce.

AL Ranch is nestled in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills were cattle and wildlife thrive amidst a sustainable ecosystem.

Part of the AL Ranch "Cow Herd"

Al and Sallie maintain that, “Our mission here at the A L Ranch is to continually improve the genetics of our cattle, to manage land and water resources to the best of our ability and to leave a legacy for generations to come to be successful in the beef industry and the ranching way of life.”

It truly an honor for me to work with people like Al and Sallie, and we will continue to get to know them better as we trace one of their calves from “birth to harvest”.



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Filed under Beef Life Cycle--Calf #718